3 Truths You Need to Know About Mental Illness

Friday, April 6, 2018


*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Everything in this post is my opinion, and comes from my own experience. If you have any questions or concerns about your mental health, consult a doctor. While my advice may be beneficial, it is NOT to replace professional help.

Hi. My name is Kristin and I struggle with depression, anxiety, and a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Most days, mental illness does not rule my life. Most of the time, I function normally and am a pretty happy-camper. But there are moments where that isn't true. And there have been times in my life of prolonged, intense struggle with my illnesses.

Though mental illness is a giant pain in the tush, I really do believe that a benefit to struggling in this area is that I can try to help bridge the gap between those who struggle with mental health and those who do not.

There are so many facets that go into the human brain, and so many reasons that people may struggle. But I also know that it is very hard for well-meaning friends and family to know how to help their loved-ones who struggle mentally and emotionally. They want to, but the "how" seems so unclear.

So today, I'm laying out 3 truths that people need to know about mental illness. Whether you struggle yourself or know someone who does, this post is for you.


3 Truths You Should Know About Mental Illness and Mental Health | #faith #Christianity #mentalhealth #mentalillness

Each Person's Struggle Is Different

If you were to put 5 people in the same room who were all diagnosed with anxiety and depression, not one of those cases would be the same. Yes, they would all have the same general diagnosis, and they may even be on the same medications, but at their core, they are all struggling in different ways. One person's condition may stem from a childhood trauma, while another person may have no "real reason" for the struggle other than a chemical imbalance. 

Even when two people have a similar root cause (i.e. childhood trauma), each individual person is still going to vary in their triggers, their personalities, and the way they handle their tougher days with depression and anxiety.

The moral of the story? Be sensitive and give grace to those who struggle with mental illness, and try to learn what helps each individual most on their journey.

Most People Don't Want To Misuse Their Illness

I think that most people have met someone who uses mental illness as a crutch, as an excuse to treat others poorly, or both. Those people are incredibly frustrating not only because they are just hard to deal with in general, but also because they give people with mental illness a bad name.

Not everyone you meet with a mental illness wants to take advantage of you. In fact, most people want to live normal lives, with as little disturbance from their illness as possible. 

And though I can only speak for myself, I would want my friends to tell me if I were driving them crazy or making them feel as if I were allowing my struggle with anxiety to exploit their kindness or take advantage of them. I would want them to gently show me the error of my ways, and ask that I work on improving. My hope is that other people with anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. would desire the same from their friends.

We Can't Always Explain Or Control Our Feelings

Sometimes, I will wake up anxious for absolutely no reason. And a lot of the time, that unexplained anxiety will linger on for the rest of the day. Sometimes, I can do things to beat it- or at least take my mind off of it. But there are also times that I will be in a cloud of anxiety that I did not ask for or want.

In these moments, I am still responsible for my actons. I am still responsible for how I treat people and for the decisions I make. I would never claim otherwise. However, something that I would like for people to understand is that you can't always just snap your fingers and change the way you feel, or the emotions you are struggling with.

You can absolutely work to improve your thoughts and outlook, but if you don't even know why you are feeling a certain way, you can't just snap your fingers and make your emotions change. And in the same way, you can't always explain how you are feeling.

That being the case, it's really easy for those of us with mental illness to hide away because we are scared that people just won't understand. But it's really important for people with mental illness not to retreat and hide, just as it is important for those who don't struggle with it to keep pursuing their loved ones, even when they don't fully understand what they are going through.


3 Things You Should Know About Mental Illness | Giving grace to others | #mentalillness #mentalhealth #faith

Tricky

Mental illness is a tricky thing. It's something that some people take advantage of. Some people use their own illness for manipulative purposes and, unfortunately, this fact makes mental illness harder to address and explain to others. Furthermore, this can sometimes serve to invalidate the struggles of those who genuinely seek to live normal lives and be a blessing to the world around them.

But despite the fact that this subject is so tricky, I would like to encourage all of you to seek to help, encourage, and understand each other. For those of you who struggle with mental illness: strive to take care of yourself. Do your part in healing or managing your symptoms. Remember that your loved ones are doing their best to understand, and give them grace when they fail or struggle to know what to do.

And to those who don't struggle with mental illness, remember not to lump everyone with mental illnesses into the same category. Remember that most people aren't trying to milk their struggles for all they're worth, nor do they want to burden you. But also know that if they are being a consistent burden (and you know them well enough), it's okay to gently address the matter. It's okay to tell your friend how you are feeling too. I can't promise how they will respond, but if they are a person who doesn't want to take advantage of others, I'm prone to think they will receive the criticism and strive to do better.

So friends, give each other grace. Wherever you find yourself, treat others with love, patience, and kindness. That will go a long way.





3 Things You Should Know About Mental Health (that a lot of people don't talk about). | Mental illness doesn't need to be taboo. | #faith #mentalhealth

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